Southern California parents were outraged this week when their kids came home from elementary school with handouts showing pictures of diseased and mutilated cows.
The pamphlets, distributed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, looked innocuous on the outside, with a cartoon figure of a smiling cow gazing upon a pair of bluebirds under the title, “A Cow’s Life,” according to Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL.
The pictures on the inside, however, were horrifying.
The pamphlets were distributed to students at Calabash Elementary School in Woodland Hills on the same day a live calf was displayed on campus as a part of a lesson on dairy farming.
“My 6-year-old daughter was handed one of these comics, saw the insert of the mutilated cow that I ripped away right away. She started flipping through it and saw pictures of baby cows being electrocuted, factory farms with machetes — I mean, just graphically horrifying images for a 6-year-old,” parent Claire Borsheim told the TV station.
“The images are pretty graphic,” parent Shawn Belschner agreed. “They’re of mutilated cows, infected cows, cows being dehorned, cows in bad conditions. I don’t think it’s good for any child.”
Los Angeles Unified School District officials issued a statement, saying:
No one at the school, or the District knew that animal activists would give children a comic book containing graphic images inserted of cows with a sore; an infection; chained and covered with fecal matter. The pictures are inappropriate for elementary students.
Principal Esther Gillis would never have authorized the distribution of those pictures or the message that milk is unhealthy. L.A. Unified is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment at our schools.
PETA representative Katie Arth called it an innocent mistake.
“PETA creates material for kids and for adults,” Arth said. “And it looks like there was just a mistake and our volunteers put the materials together to get them out quicker.”
Unsatisfied with the answer, some parents are considering legal action.
“They don’t understand what it is. They just see these graphically horrifying images that stay in their minds,” Borsheim said. “It’s like seeing a bad movie, a scary movie for them, and they can’t get it out of their minds.”
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